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MIC scoops two prestigious Education Awards

Four women in formal wear collecting an award

Pictured: MIC's Kim Maguire (far right) and Middletown Centre for Autism's Rachel Ferguson (far left) and Majella Nugent (second from right) accept the award for Best Community Academic Collaboration.

Mary Immaculate College (MIC) has been awarded two prestigious Education Awards in recognition of excellence in the areas of Diversity, Inclusion and Equality and in Community Academic Collaboration.

The awards were announced at the annual Education Awards ceremony in the Killashee Hotel in Kildare on Thursday 25 April.  Launched in 2017, the Education Awards recognise, encourage and celebrate excellence in the third level education sector in Ireland.

MIC and the Middletown Centre for Autism were jointly awarded the Best Community Academic Collaboration Award for their well-established partnership on the delivery of the Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and the MA in Autism Studies. The postgraduate programme offerings are taught by experienced professionals from the College and the Middletown Centre for Autism and were specifically developed to meet the need for high quality graduate professional development and research opportunities across the island of Ireland.

The Graduate Certificate in Autism Studies programme is designed to provide a graduate certificate to all people interested in studying autism and is an in-depth exploration of autism and the characteristics, theories and interventions that support working well with people who have autism. The Graduate Diploma in Autism Studies is designed to support students who wish to further their expertise within the area of autism research. It enables students to critically evaluate autism research and develop methods of integrating research into daily practice. The MA in Autism Studies allows students from wide ranging professional and personal backgrounds to engage in cutting edge research in the field of autism studies, and apply their research in whatever professional or personal context is most relevant and appropriate for them.

Professor Lorraine McIlrath (centre) and Nicola Brennan (right), EDII Office, collect their award

MIC’s Equality, Diversity, Inclusion & Interculturalism (EDII) Office was awarded the Excellence in Diversity, Inclusivity and Equality Award. The Office leads the way in realising the EDII aims as outlined in the College’s 2019 Strategic Plan. This Plan led to the appointment of the College’s inaugural Director of EDII, Professor Lorraine McIlrath and the establishment of the EDII Office in 2022.

MIC has taken a number of meaningful steps to increase diversity and promote inclusion. Among these are the implementation of a gender quota of 40% on all governance and management committees, shortlisting and interview boards and the increase of female representation of MIC’s Executive Team from 13% to 50%. Training in areas including Gender Identity, Menopause and Inclusion, Bystander and Consent have been brought in for staff and students. MIC successfully attained the Athena SWAN Bronze Award in 2020 that was renewed in 2024, with the Faculty of Arts attaining the Bronze Departmental Award in September 2022. The Faculty of Education is currently working towards an award in 2025.

A number of initiatives and supports have also been rolled out to increase the recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented, including the University of Sanctuary Scholarships, the delivery of the Certificate in English Language for Academic Purposes for new communities seeking international protection, and the MIC Teaching for Inclusion Seminar Series.

Click here for a full overview of the work of the EDII Office.

Congratulating those involved in the award winning teams was Professor Eugene Wall, President of MIC, who said: “On behalf of the whole College community, I wish to warmly congratulate our colleagues in MIC’s Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Interculturalism Office and the whole programme team behind our Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and MA in Autism Studies programmes on this outstanding recognition. One of the College’s guiding principles is to call for its learning community to make a difference in the broader world and to foster social justice and promote equality for the most marginalised in our society. Both of these award winners are exemplars of that mission and furthermore underpin our commitment to the highest quality of academic engagement and a rounded and holistic environment for teaching and learning.

“I wish to also recognise and celebrate the achievements of our colleagues in the International Office and the Leadership in the Early Years (LINC) Consortium whose consistent excellence saw them nominated for Education Awards once again this year.”

The LINC Consortium were nominated in the Best Marketing/Communications Team, Best Online Learning Experience and Best Research Project categories. MIC and St John’s University were nominated in the Best International Collaboration Project category for the Western Europe Semester Programme.